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Good Arrows

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Album Review

For their third full-length, Good Arrows, British six-piece Tunng continue to deliver the same combination of folk, pop, and indie electronica that earned the band the description of "folktronica." Lightly programmed beats and blips pepper the acoustic guitar arpeggios that give the songs their base, as Sam Genders' soft vocals layer over themselves and those of the backup singers and the myriad other instruments that twist and squirm their way into the compositions. Kalimba, hammer dulcimer, clarinet, eclectic samples, and electric guitar all manage to find their way in, but they're arranged in such a way — gently, sparsely, deliberately — that nothing ever seems cluttered or ornate. This is helped in part due to the attention paid to structure here, because even with the noises and distractions and long stretches of space, there's a cleanliness to the songs, verses and choruses and even the occasional hook all playing an important part in the album's overall effectiveness. The fantastic "Bullets" almost seems like it could be by the (later) Beatles, with the line "We're catching bullets in our teeth/It's hard to do but they're so sweet" pushing itself into the foreground as the one-two piano rhythm beats out playfully behind. Not every track on Good Arrows is as immediate as this, but all have a contagious, subtle beauty that makes them impossible to ignore, even as Genders sings explicitly about body parts, focusing on the visceral perhaps as an attempt to accommodate for what he cannot understand. "He crawls into her aorta.../He crawls like a rat inside her spine" he sings in "Hands," only later to bluntly state "One day we will be dead," almost as if he was trying to avert the unavoidable by exploring and rebuilding the body himself, or in "String," where he and vocalist Becky Jacobs sing of being lost in themselves, "Hang my eyes up on a hook.../Inside my own skin I fail to find myself again," as wind instruments and minor keys swirl around darkly behind. But even with all this, the obsession with the corporeal, with death, the album ends on a lighter note, as if Tunng realize that life isn't all bad, isn't simply the path to the inevitable finish. "It's fine if we are by our side," Genders sings, which, despite the triteness of the statement, provides a nice ending to the record, lighter and breezier, balancing the concern with enjoyment, and making Good Arrows a very complete album indeed.

Customer Reviews

Good Arrows indeed

I first heard "Bullets" on my local college radio station and knew I must have the album. Tunng's acoustic melodies are underscored by their electronic samples -- not only random snippets of humanity like "and the camel men cursing and grumbling," car horns, and low, guttural singing but even electronic drums. None of the lyrics are cliche. Some tracks, like "Soup" and "Kings" are stronger than others, but each stands solid. Though some have classified this album as lo-fi, its complexity makes such description absurd.

If you like "Bullets"....

...try Bricks. This record is a like a trip through secret strings of melodic cans while bringing the hands of kings to bear arms bulleting their way into your soup by taking you into a spoon of harmony and good arrows. Eric.


I heard Bullets on Weeds and, not knowing the name of the song, shazamed it.
(Gotta love the iPhone).
Best move I've made in a while. I love this album so much. It's a shame that they don't get the recognition they deserve. Great listen from start to end. I'm listening to it now as I type this review.


Formed: London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Though the core members of Tunng, Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay, began their musical partnership composing scores for softcore porn, they soon decided to form a band that would bring together Genders' gentle vocals with Lindsay's guitar playing and songwriting. To fill out their sound, the duo added more guitars as well as female vocals, turntables, programming, and other percussion. Often labeled as either "future folk" or "folktronica" by critics who had a hard time placing the band's sound, Tunng...
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